Strength matters: self-presentation to the strongest audience rather than lowest common denominator when faced with multiple audiences in social network sites

Ben Marder, Adam Joinson, Avi Shankar, Kate Thirlaway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)
206 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

On social network sites (e.g. Facebook), individuals self-present to multiple audiences simultaneously twenty-four hours a day. Prior research has inferred this results in a lowest common denominator effect (LCDE) whereby people constrain their online presentation to the standards of their strictest audience. However, this existing work neglects to address differences in the ‘value’ (social/economic) of the audience. Through the lens of self-presentation theory, we argue that it is not the strictest audience that constrains behavior but the strongest (i.e. that which has the highest score for standards and value combined). We call this the strongest audience effect (SAE). The aim of this research is to examine and contrast the LCDE and SAE. A survey of young Facebook users (n=379) provides support for the SAE when compared to LCDE, with the strength of the strongest audience predicting behavioral constraint and also social anxiety. Additional insights are generated into which audiences are perceived as the strongest. This study contributes a novel and more holistic lens to understand self-presentation in the presence of multiple audiences in social media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-62
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume61
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016

Keywords

  • Impression management
  • Self-presentation
  • Social anxiety
  • Behavior
  • Social Media
  • Facebook

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